Monday, April 27, 2015

Southport, NC...

We have been in Southport for about a week and have been busy helping our son and his family a little, doing the usual chores, taking the dogs to the vet, I came down with a sore throat and head cold and Joanie fell and ended up going to the hospital one afternoon.  In between we do get some rest.
To give our son some time to work on papers and his resume, we took Katie and Deaglan and Emory to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher one afternoon.
A big attraction at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is the albino alligator.  They use heat lamps to coax the alligators out of the pond so they can be seen.
Great place to see fish!


We are parked at the little Oak Island RV Park because the demand for RV camping in Wilmington, NC greatly exceeds the supply.  Someone would do well opening a campground in Wilmington if one could find the real estate to do it.  Land in New Hanover county is grossly overpriced and probably has been since colonial times.  So we take the ferry from Southport to Wilmington for which Hope is charged $5.00 and takes about 40 minutes but we get super gas mileage and I can snooze while we travel.

I wish they would educate the ferry clients to NOT FEED the seagulls and other birds for obvious reasons.

You can see a motor home on the deck of the sister ferry that leaves the other side of the Cape Fear River at the same time and pass in mid channel. 

Southport is an old colonial town on the coast that never really took off due it being mostly surrounded by water and wetlands and has survived due to it's tourist attraction of quaintness and the fact that the state built roads in the 20th century and in the 1950's ran some electricity out this way.

They also built a regional airport and the campground is immediately adjacent to the runway. (It has been our experience that RV parks are either adjacent to highways, rail lines or airport runways.) Because there is no scheduled airline service here, we are not bothered by the occasional noise of small planes and even small jets.  However, twice now, we were exposed to a Marine Osprey that flew down the coast from Camp Lejeune and used the runway to practice "touch and goes".  This deafeningly impressive beast shatters the air with such vibration that it actually shook our coach as we were less than 50 yards from it as it hovered over our end of the runway, making several passes before leaving the area. A couple nights later, it returned for night time maneuvers.

We will be leaving this RV park in a couple of days and head to the KOA campground in Wilmington to be closer to the kids.  I'll miss my sea bird friends who always come to visit when we ride the ferry.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Change of Plans ...

Full timing in an RV literally means being "foot lose and fancy free".  We can go wherever we want, whenever we want.  And if we stay in one place very long, say for a month, we start to get itchy feet. So while in Kissimmee we made plans to set our compass heading north to see friends in the Atlanta area then head east to see family and friends in Eastern North Carolina then head West.  Really West.

Neither Joanie nor myself had ever explored the west coast of America and the itch is strong to do that. We thought we could leisurely travel the northern tier of states and hit Washington, Oregon and California by autumn and perhaps winter in some exotic place like San Diego or southern Arizona.

But now all that is on the back burner.  Family matters will keep us close (relatively speaking) to family who inhabit more the eastern part of the country. 

So we "beat feet".  That means we drive more than 3 hours a day.  We left Kissimmee a day early and stopped in Townsend, GA overnight.  When we pulled into McIntosh Lake RV Park we were surprised to get a spot facing a pretty little lake and suddenly wished we could stay longer than just one night.

In the morning we left for Southport, NC.  We need to remember McIntosh Lake RV Park.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Merry "D"

While finishing the winter in Kissimmee, we stayed in what became one of our favorite RV parks - The Merry "D" RV Sanctuary.  For us, it had all the right stuff.  It had plenty of room, lots of places to walk the dogs, lots of flat, paved roads to walk and ride our bikes, good water and water pressure (most of the time), very friendly owners and fellow RVers, close to good shopping and, very important for us, close to a great church.


Yes, that is an alligator. In the small lakes at The Merry "D" there were also, fish, turtles and frogs.  When walking near any water feature in Florida it is always a good idea to be observant for hazards such as alligators. They have even been known to climb into unfenced backyard pools.

Plenty of room in this RV park.

Full moon and clouds.

Merry "D" is also close to Disney and all the other entertainment attractions you associate with central Florida but we never took advantage of that.  We had our own agenda for the month we stayed there.  Our main reason was for Joanie to find the grave of her grandfather and any other leads to her ancestry which was very successful.  We also got our taxes done, made some minor repairs, celebrated Holy Week and Easter and helped a lady whose home was burned out.

We decorated some Easter eggs.
And I got my hair cut by Mickey Mouse! The young lady at the hair cutting place, a professed workaholic, plays the character Mickey and Minnie at Disneyworld and makes extra money cutting hair on her days off.  To say that a cartoon character gave you a hair cut is pretty cool!

This is Kathy, one of the co-owners, the one whose house burned.  She is also a blue ribbon quilter and teaches quilting at Merry "D".  She has a small quilt/craft building on sight that has a huge quilting machine in it. Some of her students' works are pictured below.

We may winter here again some day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

What we do ...

From the very beginning of our new journey our intention was to not make everything just about us.  We want to help others along the way. 

When we arrived at Merry "D" RV Sanctuary here in Kissimmee we noticed a burned out double wide mobile home near the entrance.  We were told that the house belonged to one of the co-owners of the campground who was letting a friend stay in it for the winter. Kathy, the co-owner, still had all her belongings in it when an electrical short caused the fire.  The friend made it out safely but the house and everything in it was considered a total loss.  
The woman who was displaced by the fire was given the use of this tiny trailer in which to do her sewing.

Kathy had been pulling a few keepsake items out, like dishes that can be washed and saved and family memorabilia including Boy Scout awards, crafts and a large grand doll house complete with hundreds of hand made pieces of miniature furniture, appliances and just about everything you would find in a house - all soot covered and smelling of acrid smoke.

When we inquired about the house, they showed us where they had put the few salvaged items.  Kathy also showed us another undamaged doll house similar to the damaged one.  It was fascinating to see a life style captured in miniature.

We volunteered to help Kathy to try to clean some these items that she has cherished for so long. We have been taking a box at a time to our coach.  Joanie has the dexterity to wash and clean and polish all these delicate little pieces using artists brushes, mild soap and water and Scott's Liquid Gold and gentle elbow grease.  The heat from the fire and chemical reaction to the soot caused some of the pieces to come apart and I made repairs with tiny dots of krazy glue and lots of patience. 

The doll house was wired for tiny lights and lamps that actually plugged in with the tiniest of plugs and wires and lighted. 
The bathtub had a small bar of soap and back brush.  I put a tiny dab of glue under them to keep them in place.

To our amazement we found in one of the drawers of a chest, undamaged, boxed clothes from 'Best Quality Clothing' a boy's plaid shirt ...

... a girl's smock ...

... and a ladies' blouse.

Upon returning the restored items Kathy said that she has hope to try and restore the great doll house to its former glory.